There’s a lot to be afraid of in life. Mine has been dominated by the fear of suffocating to death.
Compared to that, verbal insults, the headmaster’s cane, my father’s screaming, army camp, police on horses, Harvard University, the doorman at Fortnum’s, bad reviews, Russian gunmen, Georgian gunmen, and threats by lawyers amount to less. When they strike, they generate an equal or greater mass of energy to fight back. But when suffocation comes on, all I am able to do is to gasp for air, and prepare for the worst.
The problem with the fear of suffocating is that it leads to three other fears – the fear of dentists working in my mouth; the fear of being gagged by robbers; and the fear of laughing.
When China was an empire in 1792, the emperor Ch’ieng Lung told the British ambassador to take his gifts and bribes back to London, along with this message for the British king: “we have never valued ingenious articles, nor do we have the slightest need of your country’s manufactures. You, O King, ought, looking upwards, to carry out our wishes, and for ever obey our edict, so that we both enjoy the blessings of peace…Do not say you have not been forewarned.”
When Russia was an empire in 1773, the empress Catherine the Great was persuaded by bribes to purchase from Wedgwood & Bentley, the Staffordshire porcelain manufacturer, the largest order of dinner and table plates in the history of British pottery. After haggling over the price for the 944 pieces, the tsarina paid Wedgwood’s invoice at today’s equivalent of £4 million – the largest price ever charged and paid for such things until that time. Wedgwood lost money on the deal, though. That was because the bribery and costs of production and delivery turned out to be greater than Catherine’s payment. The way the bribes worked, Wedgwood told the British ambassador in St Petersburg and his wife to make gifts of expensive samples he had sent them, keeping some for themselves as commission. The ambassador’s wife wrote back: “Her Imperial Majesty has kept all the Vases and the Dejeuné [sic — luncheon plates] you sent me, as samples, and they were very much liked.”
There are political lessons in this – especially if you read them while eating your dinner off a paper plate or out of a cardboard box.
It has not been proved that an unlimited number monkeys in a room with typewriters to match and an infinite amount of time would type the complete works of Shakespeare, or even one of the Bard’s lines.
But the improbability of the infinite monkey theorem is nothing compared to the certainty which the British government, its judiciary, the Metropolitan police, and the combined forces of the London Bar proved on Wednesday in a room of the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand. They proved that a troop of humans are making a monkey out of every principle of British justice and the criminal law — in order to advance the government’s war against Russia.
On September 22, Dame Heather Hallett, the coroner in the inquest into the cause of death of Dawn Sturgess on July 8, 2018, officially ordered the prosecution of a crime without a defence; in a trial in which the verdict has already been declared by the judge herself and the prosecutors; in which the surviving victims of the alleged crime, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, are not allowed to testify and forbidden to appear in public at all; when the three Russians accused of the crime are not permitted to be represented in the proceeding; in which there will be no jury; and in which the evidence of the crime, the weapon, the intention and motive of the perpetrators will be presented in secret so that there can be no testing for truth, fabrication, or lie.
Following last week’s meeting in Washington of Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne (lead image left), the Australian defence minister and their US counterparts, a strategic military and basing agreement was announced between Australia, the UK and US (AUKUS). This is being reinforced with summit meetings in Washington this week.
The declared target of their war-making preparations is China.
Australian strategy against Russia in the Pacific region follows in lockstep with the US. But for the time being the Russian enemy, and Russian submarine and surface fleet operations in the Indo-Pacific region, are not being discussed by Australian officials in public; at least not to the extent when President Vladimir Putin last visited Australia in November 2014 with a nuclear-powered, nuclear armed naval escort.
Ahead of schemes for strategic warmaking in the Pacific, the US, the UK and Australia are also engaged in proxy war operations. These have accelerated recently in Myanmar, where Russia and China are allied in support of the military government of General Min Aung Hlaing. Next, from both sides, state bribery, subversion, putsch-making, and other special operations are likely to accelerate in the Pacific islands from Fiji to Papua-New Guinea.
For the moment, the initial reaction to AUKUS from the Russian Foreign Ministry has been as close to uncritical as the ministry can be. “We noted the plans, announced by Australia,” said spokesman Maria Zakharova last Thursday, “to build nuclear-powered submarines as part of an ‘enhanced trilateral security partnership’ agreed yesterday by the United States, Great Britain and Australia. We proceed from the premise that being a non-nuclear power and fulfilling in good faith the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Australia will honour its commitments under this document, as well as the IAEA Safeguards Agreements along with its Additional Protocol. We hope that Canberra ensures the necessary level of cooperation with the IAEA in order to rule out any proliferation-related risks.”
The first detailed technical and strategic assessment of the AUKUS scheme has followed this week in Vzglyad, the leading strategy publication reflecting the Russian General Staff and GRU assessments. A translation from the Russian article by Alexander Timokhin follows.
Robots can be easily programmed to correct their mistakes; robot voters can be programmed to re-vote. But robots are missing the intelligence to cover up their tracks.
In the twenty-four hours since the Russian polls closed on Sunday at 8, the robot voters of Russia have exposed themselves to one of the most thorough analyses of their lack of intelligence ever produced by the mainstream Russian media, Russian election technologists and think tanks, and the Russian social media. Indeed, so swift and thorough have they been that protests of election-rigging from the Communist Party, the Navalny group and the State Department have proved superfluous. The silent majority of Russian voters had anticipated the outcome – they have already recorded their response.
(Something similar has happened at the University-Rosedale riding of Toronto. In Monday’s Canadian parliamentary election, voters delivered a similar message of silent rebuke to Chrystia Freeland, chief Russia hater and Ukrainian candidate for prime minister of Canada.)
By John Helmer, Moscow, and Liane Theuerkauf, Munich @bears_with
The leading hospital doctors on Novichok poisoning in Britain and Germany are not allowed by their governments to reveal publicly the medical information they have exchanged with each other.
James Haslam, the chief doctor at Salisbury District Hospital treating Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal for Novichok poisoning in March 2018, and Elspeth Hulse, an anaesthetist at Newcastle upon Tyne hospital and co-author with Haslam of a medical research paper on the Skripal case, refused this week to say if they participated with German doctors in the treatment of Alexei Navalny for Novichok poisoning at Charité Hospital in Berlin in August 2020.
According to Hulse, she has been ordered to keep silent by the British Ministry of Defence. Asked what communications and consultations on their expertise in the Skripal case they exchanged with the Berlin doctors treating Navalny, Hulse replied: “I have been advised that you should in the first instance go though [sic] the UK MOD press office. Press Office 020 7218 7907 I hope that this helps.”
Haslam also refused to answer if he had communicated with Navalny’s doctors in Berlin, or when.
Cara Charles-Barks, chief executive of the Salisbury hospital, refused this week to say what collaboration there has been between Salisbury and the Charité — the only two hospitals in the world to claim to have successfully treated cases of Novichok poisoning.
However, the British and Germans did collaborate in secret. Last week Philipp Jacoby, the German doctor directing the medical evacuation of Navalny from Omsk Hospital in Russia to Charité in Berlin in August last year, revealed that when he brought Navalny to Charité, there was “a welcome committee (Empfangskomitee) of about 30 people present.” He added he didn’t know who they were except that they were an “international” group.
The lead German doctors treating Navalny, Kai-Uwe Eckardt and David Leindl, published last December a detailed clinical case report on the Navalny case; they reported the psychotropic drugs, lithium and benzodiazepines, in his blood and urine on arrival; his biochemical test scores for each of the days he was in hospital; and their course of treatment with atropine and blood plasma. Jacoby is one of their co-authors. This week Eckardt and Leindl were asked “to confirm the contacts and communications you had with British doctors of Salisbury District Hospital on the August 22 day of [Navalny’s] admission and subsequently?” They refuse to reply.
Since Jacoby’s fresh disclosure of the “welcome committee”, the record of what the British and German doctors did, and when they did it, is evidence of how the two governments planned the public disclosure of the two Novichok attacks and the Anglo-German allegation that the Russian government was behind both of them.
A leading British specialist on organophosphate poisoning commented: “Here is an irony. Jacoby and the Charité hospital group published in The Lancet every minute detail about Navalny’s diagnostics. Now Dr.Hulse defers to the Ministry of Defence. What is the secret they are concealing — that the British treatment of the Skripals for Novichok exposure was different from the German treatment of Navalny? Or is the secret that there was no Novichok in either case?”
By John Helmer, Moscowand Liane Theuerkauf, Munich @bears_with
Philipp Jacoby, the only German doctor treating Alexei Navalny for alleged poisoning to have testified publicly, has given a new press interview to alter the interpretation of the evidence he gave last week. “People close to Navalny”, he now says, “warned me about John Helmer”.
telephone interviews on September 6, Jacoby revealed that the
planning of his medical evacuation flight to Russia began in Shannon,
Ireland, on August 19, 2020, the day before Navalny fell ill on a
flight between Tomsk and Moscow on the morning of August 20, 2020.
also testified that Maria Pevchikh, one of Navalny’s staff, had
been the first to mention Novichok when they were talking together at
the intensive care unit of Omsk Emergency Hospital Number 1, where
Navalny was being treated, after his flight had been diverted for an
emergency landing at Omsk. Later, Jacoby added, Pevchikh and Yulia
Navalnaya, Navalny’s wife, had asked him — and he had agreed with
them — to conceal their backpack containing water bottles from
Navalny’s hotel room in Tomsk on to the German medevac aircraft,
making it appear to be his own luggage and thereby avoid Russian
detection at Omsk airport.
In a fresh interview for almost ninety minutes on Thursday evening, September 9, conducted in German, Jacoby did not claim his earlier interviews had been misquoted or misinterpreted. Instead, he revealed how close he has been to Navalnaya, corresponding by email with her after Navalny arrived in Germany for treatment.
also issued the first personal attack by a German doctor or German
government official on the medical expertise and truthfulness of the
Russian doctors treating Navalny at Omsk. “The doctors in Omsk told
us a cock and bull story [die
Ärzte in Omsk haben mir einen Bären aufgebunden],”
Jacoby now says, claiming they
didn’t tell him the full truth. He adds that handwritten
records of Navalny’s clinical tests he was shown by the Omsk hospital
doctors “were unprofessional and could easily have been faked.”
Jacoby did not acknowledge the papers he was shown were handwritten
in English because the Omsk Hospital doctors believed Jacoby could
not understand computer printouts in Russian.
On the evidence of the German clinical test records, published last December by Jacoby with thirteen of the treating doctors at the Charité hospital in Berlin, Jacoby confirms that lithium and several benzodiazepine drugs were found in Navalny’s blood and urine. In his first interview, Jacoby said he “had no idea where the lithium or benzodiazepines came from. Maybe he took it on a daily basis.”
In his new interview Jacoby said “either he took it regularly himself or the doctors in Omsk gave it to him to distract from the poisoning.”
Faster than a speeding bullet — more powerful than a locomotive — able to leap tall lies at a single bound.
More farsighted than Clark Kent (alias Superman), greener than Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), more tenacious than Peter Parker (Spiderman), as sworn to vengeance against lawlessness as Bruce Wayne (Batman).
That’s the first true to life comic book coated in LAUGHTER, the only antidote that’s certain to neutralize Novichok if it gets into your underpants or a BUK rocket if it’s fired at your airplane.
Small peoples deal with their inferiority complex towards larger, more powerful peoples in special ways.
The Greeks remember their ancient victories over the Trojans and Persians, and more recently their defeat of the Italians at the start of World War II. The Galicians of Ukraine remember their killing of Jews, Poles and Russians, and theft of their property under the protection of the German Wehrmacht. The Canadian Ukrainians compensate for their inferiority the same way.
Australians have their special, lawless ways of doing things, usually under British naval protection or US air cover. For fighting the war in Afghanistan, the Australian Army cut children’s throats and encouraged a culture of war crimes among its special forces. This was documented by soldier whistleblowers and an official Army investigation. Then the Taliban, victor of the war, charged the Australians had “committed some of the worst and the brutal kind of human rights violations, by hacking fingers off dead bodies and killing farmers in Uruzgan and other provinces they were based. They should be prosecuted as per the law, humanitarian law.” Fat chance — said the Australian Foreign Minister, declaring the accusation was “repugnant”. She didn’t mean to say it was untrue, but she aimed to ignore it. Australia would keep fighting the Taliban, she also meant — if they could.
But the reality of being such a small country the Chinese have termed Australia the chewing gum on their shoe, is that the Australians decided they had better flee Kabul before the US Army retreat began. The troops have brought their lawlessness home.
This is being demonstrated in the domestic war against COVID-19. To direct the Australian forces in the officially code-named OPERATION COVID SHIELD, an army lieutenant-general named John Frewen and a navy commodore called Eric Young are in charge.
Frewen’s war-fighting promotion was earned defeating a tribal rebellion by 100 men on the Solomon Islands. He then became the head of one of Australia’s spy agencies. Young’s combat experience at sea has been defeating unarmed refugee boats arriving from Indonesia. He was then promoted to command of an entity called United States Force Posture Initiatives – that’s the Australia-based command of US forces targeting China.
In no country in the world have soldiers been put in command of emergency powers administration like this – except juntas of fascist states.
By John Helmer, Moscow, and Liane Theuerkauf, Munich @bears_with
The planning to fly Alexei Navalny (lead image) from Russia to Germany, and there to accuse the Kremlin of trying to kill him with Novichok, started before Navalny himself knew he was ill.
The new evidence comes from records of the German medical evacuation team based in Nuremberg. This five-man team — two pilots, two paramedic nurses, one physician specialist in emergency medicine — flew from Nuremberg to Omsk; collected Navalny, and with his wife Yulia Navalnaya and assistant Maria Pevchikh, flew to Berlin, where Navalny was revived.
But the evidence reveals their mission began with orders to the aircraft and to the team members when they were at Shannon airport, western Ireland, on the morning of August 20, 2020; those orders were first issued the day before, on August 19. That’s the day before Navalny collapsed on a flight between Tomsk and Moscow, and then following the emergency diversion of the aircraft to Omsk, before he was taken to Omsk Emergency Hospital Number 1.
The German evidence, newly obtained this week, also discloses that the first allegation that Navalny had been poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent came from Pevchikh. She told the German medevac doctor and paramedics when they were with Navalny in the intensive care unit at the Omsk hospital where Navalny was being treated. “She spoke English perfectly”, Dr Philipp Jacoby remembers.
The evidence of the poisoning was in several water bottles Pevchikh had taken from Navalny’s hotel room in Tomsk, and brought to Omsk after recording a film of herself and others from Navalny’s staff collecting them from the hotel room. These bottles Navalnaya and Pevchikh asked the German doctor to take through the Omsk airport baggage check and on to the medevac aircraft in a backpack attached to his own luggage. “She didn’t tell us what was inside,” Jacoby said in an interview this week. “You could feel they were half-litre bottles, the hotel-room type, maybe five of them. The backpack was strapped to my bag and it went on board with me.”
When the aircraft reached Berlin, the backpack with the bottles was delivered to the Charité hospital along with Navalny. It had been unloaded from the aircraft and put on a German security lorry which took Navalny’s luggage to the Charité hospital. “I handed the bottles to the intensive care unit,” Jacoby says. “They were happy to get the bottles.” A German investigation followed later. “I got a phone call from the German security service asking how the bottles came to Germany,” Jacoby says. He also remembers an earlier concern about Pevchikh’s bottles at Omsk airport, before takeoff. “The [medevac] co-pilot was upset that we took on board someone’s luggage that wasn’t our own.”
In November 2001—twenty years ago — I gave a lecture in Moscow entitled: “Stealing the Truth – How to Read, and Not to Read, the Press In Russia”. The text has been lost. I am grateful to Ajay Goyal, the organiser of the Hellevig Lectures, for inviting me to bring the message back to life.
In the interval, Jon Hellevig lived his productive life in Russia. He and I both wrote for The Russia Journal and he set many examples of disciplined investigation leading to fearless publication of the truth. I salute him and his memory for what he achieved as an example to those of us who knew him and who live on.
In Soviet days, Russian reporters, editors and readers had shared an understanding of how to write and how to read the real message, the truth, between the lines of the printed text. This was a subtlety western readers have taken time to learn. The invention of the tweet struck with blunt force trauma; its unsubtlety came later. Then the US and the NATO allies opened the Ukraine front of their war against Russia in February 2014; the economic warfare sanctions followed the Ukrainian plot to down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July 2014; the war on the Syria front escalated from September 2015; and the two Novichok operations were launched — the British one involving Sergei Skripal in March 2018, and the German one involving Alexei Navalny in August 2020.
In wartime, with Russia and the truth about Russia under the gun, you will understand me when I say I shall not allow my remarks to give aid and comfort to the other side. What I have had to say about domestic and internal Russian politics and the features of the Russian oligarchy are in print for all to read. There will be more to say — though not here, not today.
If ever there was a man who displayed on his face the evil in his mind, it was Zbigniew Brzezinski (lead image, left), the national security advisor for President Jimmy Carter (right) when the US plot to start the war against the Soviet Union on the Afghan front was hatched in 1979. “Now we can lure the Russians into the Afghan trap,” he wrote Carter in a secret note of February 1979. In July of that year he followed with the directive Carter signed in secret to supply arms to the mujahideen “to induce a Soviet military intervention”. In December 1979 Brzezinski told Carter: “we should not be too sanguine about Afghanistan becoming a Soviet Vietnam”. Later he used to boast that had been precisely his intention and also his crowning achievement.
Brzezinski’s lips are sealed now because he’s been dead for four years.
Carter is still alive. In 1979 he kept the evil on his mind secret behind the smile on his face. His lips are sealed now, since the retreat from Afghanistan began by the US Army, and after the rout last month in Kabul. The mainstream American press are not reporting they have asked Carter for comment, or that he has refused. Not even the alt-media investigators have pursued him.
But it’s already clear what Carter thinks. He believes he scored one of the wold’s great strategic victories; he is disgruntled that he has never received the public credit he thinks he deserves. In the words of one of the CIA men in charge of Afghanistan operations in 1979, Carter’s strategy was to wage the “fight [against] the Soviets that went on to win the final and decisive battle of the Cold War.”
A new book by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, just published, opens the story of what Brzezinski and Carter really did to start the US war in Afghanistan, starting with the assassination of Adolph Dubs, the US Ambassador in Kabul on February 14, 1979; his killing with four pistol shots to head in a Kabul hotel room, the book concludes, was part of the White House plot.
“Some unnamed Americans claimed the Soviets wanted Dubs out of the way so they could set up for their invasion,” Fitzgerald and Gould report. They go on to name the Americans, one an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Kabul, another a CIA agent. “But the Soviets got along famously with Dubs because he wasn’t an anti-Soviet Russophobe like Brzezinski. There was also plenty of evidence to show the Soviets didn’t want to invade. They went on record with the U.S. embassy throughout the summer of 1979 trying everything to avoid it. And besides, the rules of the game made ambassadors virtually untouchable. There was no upside to killing one, and a big downside.”
The assassination of Dubs, Fitzgerald and Gould argue, “led to the Soviet invasion nine months later….Who would kill an ambassador? Not a rival superpower trying to get the American Congress to sign a nuclear arms deal they’d desperately needed. And certainly not a third-world backwater desperate for U.S. aid and recognition. Only someone trying to provoke retribution. And who would want that retribution? Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski blamed the Russians, but then Brzezinski always blamed the Russians… If it hadn’t been for the Dubs murder there would never have been a Soviet invasion.”
Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.
There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.
There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.
Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers. In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.
Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.
How little the Germans have changed.
But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.” By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”
So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.
Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.
China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.
The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.
In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022, is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.
There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself. Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”
This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.
The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.
Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age, after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.
After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster history to be her own joke.
Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself. This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.
In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English: the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.
The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British. Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating. The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin BlueLine (d. 1996).
The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion), Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok) are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences. The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.
Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money. “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.
By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow @bears_with
It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.
The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.
Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.
China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years. The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.
So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.
The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).
A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester, he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018, claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.
Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”
Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.
After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.
The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.”
Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.
New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.
Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes, it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.
The US Army’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been firing several hundred million dollars’ worth of cyber warheads at Russian targets from its headquarters at MacDill Airforce Base in Florida. They have all been duds.
The weapons, the source, and their failure to strike effectively have been exposed in a new report, published on August 24, by the Cyber Policy Center of the Stanford Internet Observatory. The title of the 54-page study is “Unheard Voice: Evaluating Five Years of Pro-Western Covert Influence Operations”.
“We believe”, the report concludes, “this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western IO [influence operations] on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date… the data also shows the limitations of using inauthentic tactics to generate engagement and build influence online. The vast majority of posts and tweets we reviewed received no more than a handful of likes or retweets, and only 19% of the covert assets we identified had more than 1,000 followers. The average tweet received 0.49 likes and 0.02 retweets.”
“Tellingly,” according to the Stanford report, “the two most followed assets in the data provided by Twitter were overt accounts that publicly declared a connection to the U.S. military.”
The report comes from a branch of Stanford University, and is funded by the Stanford Law School and the Spogli Institute for Institutional Studies, headed by Michael McFaul (lead image). McFaul, once a US ambassador to Moscow, has been a career advocate of war against Russia. The new report exposes many of McFaul’s allegations to be crude fabrications and propaganda which the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has been paying contractors to fire at Russia for a decade.
Strangely, there is no mention in the report of the US Army, Pentagon, the Special Operations Command, or its principal cyberwar contractor, the Rendon Group.
Maria Yudina (lead image) is one of the great Russian pianists. She was not, however, one who appealed to all tastes in her lifetime, 1899 to 1970.
In a new biography of her by Elizabeth Wilson, Yudina’s belief that music represents Orthodox Christian faith is made out to be so heroic, the art of the piano is diminished — and Yudina’s reputation consigned again to minority and obscurity. Russian classical music and its performers, who have not recovered from the Yeltsin period and now from the renewal of the German-American war, deserve better than Wilson’s propaganda tune.
Those lighting Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral pyre are torching the truth of the matter – that Gorbachev was a liar of monumental vanity who betrayed his country out of greed and incompetence, outpointed by his adversaries in Moscow, Washington, and London because they knew him better than he knew himself.